July 1, 2011, Volume 11 Number 13
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Happy July 2011! This month celebrates our nation's independence and our local liberation! We celebrate both occasions by eating barbecue. I make it a point to have Western-style tomato-based barbecue ribs and chicken to celebrate the July 4th holiday. This menu certainly won't do for the Liberation Day Parade barbecuing frenzy, where our local soy-citrus/acid based marinade dominates the scores of barbecue grills lining the parade route. We love our barbecue, it's both a local heritage and a national tradition. Biba Guahan! Biba U.S.A! Biba BBQ!!
There was little fanfare or notice given when the United Seamen's Service Center in Piti recently closed its doors for good. I believe this happened either in late May or early June. The Seamen's Club was an ideal place to gather on a Sunday morning to eat their Eggs Benedict and other breakfast fare while gazing out over the azure waters of Piti. In addition to being a landmark for the entrance to the Commercial Port, this was an important recreational and dining facility for Merchant Marines visiting Guam as well as providing valuable communications services where they could contact loved ones anywhere around the world. I can't tell you how many meals I ate at this location nor at the previous Seamen's Club location at the Commercial Port, which was eventually been "done in" by a typhoon though some would have termed it a "mercy killing"! We will miss the Seamen's Club. I wonder what lies in store for this choice piece of beach front real estate? Does anyone know?
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Star Building (across from St. John's School)
It's now almost 7 months since my last "rave" about Pika's Cafe! Within that time frame, owners Lenny & Pika Fejeran have expanded and reinforced their "niche" as one of the island's best non-traditional breakfast and lunch places. They have also gained some great publicity from their award-winning placement in the MV Burgerfest Competition in May as well as their participation in the recent Taste Guam food fair at the Hyatt.
Given all this well deserved attention, I had to return to Pika's for breakfast and to also try their Tinaktak Burger, which took the 2nd Place trophy in the Gourmet Category in the Burgerfest competition.
So I ordered the Tinaktak Burger Special ($10) which comes with a side (it's more like a mountain-side) of homemade potato salad. Zee had the sophisticated Ham & Cheese ($7.50), which is an incredibly tasty combination of ham, egg, tomato, Swiss cheese fondue and herb aioli layered between two pan de leche slices. Even though Zee ordered it without the tomato, the sandwich was still a screaming success.
The Tinaktak Burger satisfied my curiosity about how to bring those the great flavors and memories of tinaktak to a burger sandwich made with ciabatta bread. The cut long green beans lined the bottom while a cooked tomato slice layered the top. It may have been their "Lana sauce" blended with other seasonings that made this one awesome burger. Please note that you need plenty of napkins with this juicy sandwich! The potato salad was a gourmet treat, with generous amounts of pickles, pimentos, olives, and potatoes in a balanced blend of goodness. This day we were served by Alexis, the lovely lass from California who ought to teach customer service at GCC.
My next visit was with the intent of trying out their Benedict Dela Cruz ($10), which has two poached eggs and Chamorro sausage on an English muffin (you can even substitute soy chorizo in place of the pork chorizo if you want). However, another great Pika server, Robin, persuaded me to try the Chamericano Breakfast Burrito ($8.50). This is a panini created from a tortilla stuffed with Chamorro sausage, melted cheddar cheese, red potatoes, scrambled eggs, Lana sauce and a side of salsa. Remarkably, the salsa provided a cool soothing effect on the palate since the sausage had some spicy-hot heat! I really liked this bold and flavorful breakfast burrito, which is certainly enough for two to share. Now, I need to find a time to have the French Canadian ($8.25), which has grilled ham, syrupy sweet bacon and tomato between two slices of French toast - sounds yummy, right?
Get to Pika's for breakfast or to enjoy some fantastic and creative lunch options. If you've not been, you are missing out big time!
A Taste of Taiwan - Chinese Culinary Exhibition in Guam
Aurora Resort & Spa
Cuisine for Everyday Eating
I was fortunate to join my fellow MCA board members in attending an informative and engaging food event showcasing Taiwanese cooking. Celebrity chefs were brought in to teach a series of seminars, some to professional chefs and restaurant owners, and others for the general public. The event was sponsored by the United Chinese Association of Guam, the Guam Chinese School Foundation, Chinese School Board Association, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Chinese Ladies Association of Guam, and Fu Guang Shan Buddhist Temple with partial funding from the Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Guam. The Aurora's Sunflower Restaurant was a scenic, though a bit warm, place for this event.
Renowned Chef Huang Te-Chung emphasized how to use fresh ingredients to make Taiwanese cuisine that is light and maintains natural flavors. Another benefit from the preparations is to promote healthy eating, with some ingredients serving as tonics (medicinal ingredients) that may be used during different times of the year to maintain health and vitality. Chef Huang is currently an advisor of the Association of Taipei Restaurants, President of Taiwanese Cuisine, Lecturer at the National Kaoshiung University of Hospitality and Tourism, and Organizer of Taiwanese Cuisine Exhibitions for the Taiwan Bureau of Tourism. He was accompanied by Chef Huang Ching-Chi, Executive Chef of I-Mei Food Co., Ltd., one of the largest food conglomerates in Taiwan.
For our session, Executive Chef Eddie Chien of Delmonico's Bar & Grill, served as an interpreter as neither of the guests chefs spoke English. (Most of the audience was Chinese, however, there were a few of us who needed the translations). There were a number of dishes prepared, however one of the highlights was a healthy soup that needed over an hour to steam. This soup was made using a variety of intriguing ingredients that were displayed on a large blue tray in the beginning of the seminar. Among these were garlic, ginger, goji, abalone, taro, mushrooms, quail eggs, bamboo shoots, chicken, green onions, sweet potatoes, jujubes, and a rare ingredient, lobster, which is something they jokingly said would make us feel so good we would "jump over the moon!".
Another fun part of the session was learning how to make won ton dumplings by hand. This was something I was urged to do, and I did. Of course, I would love to be able to make perfect dumplings with one hand the way Chef Huang Te-Chung did!
We had the opportunity to eat the foods that were prepared. One of them was Squid Escargot Hot Pot. Another was Pork Belly with Red Glutinous Paste. A really tasty seafood dish was the Chao Xing Wine Shrimp. This was an audience favorite.
All in all, this was an amazing and fun event, and I was so pleased to be introduced to these visiting chefs, whom I'd love to meet when I visit Taiwan. On a side note, during the event I learned about Old Town Chinese Restaurant's planned opening within the property at the end of June in the space previously occupied by Toh-ka-Lin. This should be a promising venture for both the property and restaurant owners.
Caliente Mexican Taqueria
We hadn't been to Caliente for a while and decided to drop by this past Thursday night to celebrate the end of June! We wanted to try two new items. Zee ordered the Mexican Pizza ($11), which is a 13" flour tortilla topped with refried beans, salsa, your choice of meat (we had beef), Jack cheese, and garnished with sour cream and guacamole. This was an outstanding pizza creation, with a thin and crispy crust that didn't overwhelm or overshadow the toppings. I even added some salsa, though none was required, to complement the toppings. It was a delightful surprise that I'd highly recommend. If you want this with shrimp, add $3.
An even bigger surprise was in store for me! I ordered from the Special Dinner section of the menu an entree that literally seemed to be calling me. It was Camarones De Tequila ($17), shrimp sauted in garlic, pico de gallo, and a shot of tequila, finished with cream and served with Spanish rice. My goodness, what a spectacular feast of shrimp! These were large, deveined, and perfectly cooked shrimp enhanced by a richly flavored sauce that I found irresistible and addicting! I do recommend that you try one or two of Anna's famous Mango Margaritas. They help everything go down better!
688-7305 or 488-8166
Hagatna (next to Skinner Plaza) on Wed,Thur. & Fri
Agat (near Inn at the Bay) on Mon & Tues.
Tumon (on Fujita Rd, near Fokai) on Sat.
About three weeks ago, Mosa's Hotbox started rolling. In that short time, it has become an overnight sensation. Imagine, this is a "stealth" operation, with no fixed location. It is a mobile canteen or, more accurately, a mobile kitchen trailer presently working the three different locations noted above. They are only open from 11am-3pm Mon-Sun.
If you ever wondered what had happened to Sara Pleadwell, formerly the kitchen manager and head cook at Mermaid Tavern, she is working in this mobile venture with her partner, Monique Genereaux, serving incredibly delicious meals on wheels! They have a very simple and basic menu featuring Lamb and Chicken Gyros ($7), Chicken or Fish Taco ($7), Burgers ($7) with daily specials, Hot Dogs ($3), Hummus & Pita ($5). The explanation for the daytime only hours? During the evenings, Sara works as a sous chef at Table 35, and Monique is an intern at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa. Sara and Monique have one employee, Steve Salas, who is their "muscle" and all-around helper. [Photo L-R: Steve Salas, Sara Pleadwell and Ken Stewart]
I stopped by this Thursday afternoon and was blown away by what I ate. Of course, this is an outdoor situation subject to the elements of wind, rain, sun, and flies, so be prepared to deal with whatever the weather is doing. They provide folding chairs and the specials include drinks of soda or water.
I took a photo of another diner's fish taco, which she described as excellent and recommended that I order it sometime.
For my meal, (and this write up), I ordered Monique's special creation, a Spinach, Mushroom, and Blue Cheese Burger. All ingredients were combined within the patty that was cooked on a flat griddle in front of me. The presentation was magnificent. Green leaf lettuce, thinly-sliced red onion, pickles, and roma tomato slices with a patty topped by a habanero aioli. Wow! What a flavor sensation! I went through this and backed it up with a Lamb Gyro. Again, another home-run!
Just like their motto says on a sticker on their steel box kitchen trailer, "Love people. Cook them tasty food." these daring young culinarians share a vision that is riding the wave of mobile canteens and food trucks that has swept across the Mainland to Hawaii and is now arriving on our shores. I think they'll do just fine.
HAWAII SPECIAL FEATURE
The food truck phenomenon that swept the Mainland US came ashore on Oahu late last year and shows no sign of receding. We have Filipino, Mexican, Local-style Hawaiian-American, Fusion Tacos, Gourmet Contemporary, Soul Food, Japanese, Thai and pretty much anything you can think of being served from a food truck.
However, we only have one truck which strictly serves dessert and that is FAIRYCAKES808 passionate purple "Lola," a retro fitted van from whose windows proceed Monster Brownies; Whoopie Pies in lush flavors like Orange Dream, Red Velvet, Cookies 'n Cream; and Dessert Bars which thrill local palates by reminding them of childhood treats like Manju (sweet red bean with shortbread) and Pineapple Mochi amongst others. There is also a "cupcake of the day" and that offering depends upon what the mysterious baker known as "Auntie" felt like making overnight - it could be mango, peanut butter & chocolate or guava - you just don't know until you get there and look or check your twitter feed.
Like all of the food trucks on Oahu, FAIRYCAKES808 relies on twitter to let customers know where they are and what they are serving. They also warn you when they are about to run out! This is important because when you really, really want that Banana Whoopie Pie!
FAIRYCAKES808 is the brainchild of the energetic Pei Chen and she is ably backed-up by the aforementioned baker, "Auntie," and her right-hand man, Nick Carroll, whose charming manner and friendly face is the one you are most likely to encounter when visiting "Lola." [Nick Carroll and Pei Chen]
In addition to being out and about on Oahu, FAIRYCAKES808 and "Lola" are available for parties and catering. One of the most appealing ideas they offer is a "cupcake bar" where they provide baked and iced cup cakes in the flavors you want and a complete selection of sprinkles and toppings for guests to create their own personal "Fairy Cake" - this is a guaranteed hit for birthday parties and a brilliant idea for a wedding reception.
If you want to visit FAIRYCAKES808 when you are on Oahu, you can find where they are by visiting FairyCakesHawaii.com or following them on twitter @FAIRYCAKES808. If you would like to contact them regarding a custom order for friends and family who live on Oahu, you can email them at info@FairyCakesHawaii or call 808-447-8862.
Austin, Ariana and Maya say "Sugar overload has never been so delicious!"
You can find Guam Food Guy links and reviews at the following sites:
Also available on Your Docomo Pacific web-enabled phone